Friday, 09 October 2020 12:19

COLUMN: Truckin': Remembering pickups of the past

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COLUMN: Truckin': Remembering pickups of the past J.A. Bolton

For some reason, I’ve always loved trucks. 

Growing up on my Granddad’s farm we had an old red ‘48 Ford. It was a 1-ton truck that had duel wheels on the back. It was equipped with a flatbed, but we had side planks and a tailgate we could easily slip on it. The manual transmission was in the floor with a granny gear. Why, I bet that truck wouldn’t run 45 mph down a hill but put it in granny gear and it would haul or pull just about anything.

In 1953, my Uncle Everett bought himself a brand new F-100 Ford pickup. It had a shiny red paint job with flared fenders. It was powered by a flathead V-8 that would really get up and go. Its only problem was it had too light a rear end and, with all that power, you could just about get it stuck in wet grass.

As the years went by, my uncle’s eyesight got so bad he couldn’t drive and he sold me his truck. It took me a year or so of working in tobacco and mowing grass to finish paying him. The truck drove great and was a nice quiet ride but, being a teenager, I wanted folks to know that I was coming. 

To get my truck to sound off, I cut the single exhaust off. I then placed a divider in the pipe, connected two joints of flex pipe, and ran them through two holes I had burned in the running board. To finish my new loud exhaust system, I connected those pipes to two chrome stacks clamped between the cab and the bed of the truck. I kinda doubt it would pass today’s inspections, but when I let off the gas, it really paid off. My Dad said, “Boy, that truck of yours sounds like two tractors without mufflers!”

I kept the ‘53 until the early 70s, then I sold it back to my uncle. He would crank the truck up a few times a month, but it mostly just sat under his truck shelter. As the battery went dead, it went without being cranked for years, and finally, the motor locked up. My uncle finally sold it to some neighborhood boys before he died.

The day after I sold the ‘53, I bought a ‘70 model Ford. It had a long bed, an automatic transmission, and was painted tan and white. I used it to drive to work, hunt, and carry my racing go-kart around to the many tracks I raced at. Later, I would use the truck to haul the equipment for my asphalt paving business that I did as a side job.

It wasn’t long before I took a hankering for a new pickup, so I bought a brand new 1976 Ford. The truck came with a shift on the column, a long bed, light blue paint job, and a six-cylinder motor. It didn’t take long though before I realized it was not the truck I needed. Why, that truck got stuck and put me to walking several times while I was coon hunting.

Won’t long, I traded that ‘76 truck to a friend of mine for his four-wheel drive truck. Now I could go most anywhere without having to walk back out.

I kept the four-wheel drive for a year or so but later sold it and bought a nice 1976 GMC from another friend. That truck always gave me good service, but boy did it love gas. Therefore I used it only to hunt with and haul wood.

To ease up on my gas usage, while still keeping the GMC, I purchased a little green four-cylinder Chevy Luv truck. I put a camper shell on what I called “the Green Lizard,” and we would ride for miles on a tank of gas. Why, I traded for dogs all over three states while driving “the Green Lizard,” but after several years, it also found itself on trader’s row and I sold it.

When my daughter got her driver’s license, we got her a Mustang. It was just a four-cylinder, but with nice tires and rims, it looked more like a Mustang Fastback.

My daughter drove the Mustang til she went off to college. Then we found a good deal on a really sporty red Nissan for her, but then I was stuck with the Mustang.

I drove the Mustang back and forth to work for a while but I still wanted another nice pickup other than my GMC.

I checked out all the local car lots and finally found a 1993 Chevy Silverado short bed that I just loved. The truck came equipped with all the things I wanted, plus as my wife said, “It’s red.”

Finally, after all my trading skills were used up, I traded the Mustang plus some cash for the Silverado pickup. 

It had less than 100,000 miles and not a dent on it and was a one-owner. He had kept up with the maintenance and recorded everything that had been done to the truck. The truck came with a 350 engine, automatic transmission, AM/FM radio, CD player, and wide white-letter tires.

Needless to say, I still own the truck, which has only 149,000 miles and rides and drives like a dream. So far, I have used the truck to teach two of my grandkids how to drive and am presently working with the other two. I have a newer GMC 4x4 sitting in the yard, but ain’t nothin’ better than driving down an old country road, listening to country music, and riding in a classy old pickup.

 J.A. Bolton is author of “Just Passing Time,” co-author of “Just Passing Time Together,” and just released his new book, “Southern Fried: Down-Home Stories” — all of which can be purchased on Amazon. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..